Remember that DOOM roguelike, the one that Bethesda posted a cease and desist for? Its creators begrudgingly applied, but not before taking the spirit of that project and injecting it into a modern spiritual successor. That game is Jupiter Hell, it’s finally out of early access, and it’s very good.
In case you’ve forgotten, the game’s name is Jupiter Hell. It’s based off the work done for DoomRL, which was a DOOM-themed roguelike that had been posted online since … well, 2003.
Putting the lengthy delay in Zenimax’s legal team aside, Jupiter Hell always looked sick. From an isometric/top-down view, the game played out an awful lot like the DOOM board game — you moved in a turn-based fashion on a grid, shooting demons along the way. The game got a full release last Friday, and it’s come one hell of a long way.
Here’s the original Kickstarter trailer:
And here’s what Jupiter Hell looks like now.
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The whole game plays like a traditional roguelike, which means no mouse controls. You can play with a controller though, and it works super well with that. But if you’re after a fresh game that runs neatly on a laptop or low-end machines, Jupiter Hell is one hell of a rabbit hole to go down.
Apart from moving with the keyboard/gamepad and picking up items, you also have a whole series of classes you can specialise in. The game gives you a choice of Marine, Scout or Technician from the beginning, and they all have massively different traits and abilities. From there, you can specialise in over 20 roles, or you can even store up points if necessary. All the traits make a massive difference, too.
The design really rewards patience and forethought too. Instead of moving back and forth, you have a wait action which lets you hunker down, improving your aim and reducing your chance to hit. You can then boost that with extra traits, not to mention extra relics, head armour, body armour and other inventory bonuses.
And while it’s all a very traditional roguelike underneath — shotguns have to be reloaded per bullet — you can run around the map in real-time just by holding the arrow keys/controller down. Some levels will institute a lockdown lasting a certain amount of seconds, which basically means you might have 180 or so moves to work through.
The whole curved CRT design is super fitting, too.
With all the environmental interactions, available weapons, combinations and the low hum of metal in the background, anyone who likes DOOM, traditional roguelikes or tactics-based games like XCOM will get something out of Jupiter Hell. Even the UI harks back to those classic DoomRL, Rogue-era days with the ASCII indicators. Each run will take you about 4 hours once you get accustomed to it, although those runs always have a good amount of intensity throughout.
It’s an absolute gem and one that’s completely flown under the radar. You can still grab it for 20 percent off on Steam, which equates to about $29 for Australians. Super good value for the amount of time you’ll get out of it, especially once you start doing runs on the harder difficulties.